The My Son Ruins are a cluster of Hindu temples constructed sometime between the 4th and 14th centuries by the Champa civilization that once extended over a large part of coastal Vietnam. The ruins often get referred to as the Angkor Wat of Vietnam, though they are far from being as gigantic.
This UNESCO protected complex was once of religious and political importance and is now abandoned and unused—you won’t see any active worshiping or religious visitors. Over time, these temples have been destroyed, but only by human forces. You will even spot a few bullet holes as you step over stones and finger the cracks. The temples are, however, still standing since inception, and visiting these will let your mind wander back in time, picturing these enchanting ruins once full of life.
Head over in the morning to avoid the flocks of tourists.
Caodaism is a movement that began in Vietnam in the early 20th century, and in Da Nang, you will find the second largest Cao Dai temple of Vietnam, serving about 50,000 devout followers. This religion is based on all the major religions of the East and West, from Christianity and Islamism to Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism, which is why you will find a sign hanging behind the main altar with the words reading, van giao nhat ly, or “all religions have the same reason.” Behind these letters are representations of the founders of five of the world’s greatest religions: Mohammed, Laozi, Jesus, Buddha and Confucius. Behind the main altar sits an enormous globe with the divine eye symbol of Cao Dai, watching over its followers.
The premise of Caodaism is that all religions are ultimately the same. With this belief, the Caodaists seek to promote tolerance throughout the world.
Cao Dai Temple, 63 Hải Phòng, Thạch Thang, Hải Châu, Hải Phòng, Vietnam, +84 236 3829 463
This rather new and attractive pagoda that took six years to construct is the biggest in the coastal city of Da Nang. Unveiled in 2010, this temple features the perfect harmony between modern and traditional Vietnamese architecture, evident in the curved roofs, pillars, and various statues scattered about the gardens, illustrating fascinating myths and stories in Buddhism.
There is a legend behind the location of this pagoda. During the Nguyen Dynasty, a statue of Buddha floated into the Son Tra Peninsula out of nowhere. Believing that this was a suspicious sign, people here established a shrine for worship, which gave the fishermen peace of mind as they worked. This is where the Linh Ung pagoda is erected today.
The most prominent part of the pagoda is the statue of the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara (Goddess of Mercy), which is the highest of its kind in South East Asia, standing at 220 feet (67 meters) high. If you climb all the way to the top, you are rewarded with panoramic views, the boundless sea and primitive forest surrounding the pagoda. Go in the evening for the sunset.
Quan Cong Temple was established in 1653, making it one of the oldest in the regions. The temple is of Chinese architecture and is dedicated to an esteemed Chinese general of the Han Dynasty that shares the same name. He is a symbol of loyalty, compassion, justice and integrity.
The structure is composed of three parts: front hall, open yard and back hall which is the sanctuary. The majestic entrance at the front hall is of red and gold, and very impressive. On the central altar at the back of the sanctuary, you will find a statue of Quan Cong, made of papier–mâché, on a wooden frame. Beside him are statues of some of his guardians that played important roles during his time. If you make an offering to the altar, the caretaker solemnly strikes a bronze bowl that emits a bell-like sound.
This temple is in Hoi An, which is about a half hour ride from Da Nang. Hoi An Ancient Town is great for a stroll afterward, where you can find similar architecture.
Quan Cong Temple, 24 Trần Phú, Cẩm Châu, Hội An, Quảng Nam, Vietnam, +84 235 3861 327